Disclaimer: The characters of Supernatural were created by Eric Kripke and are owned by the WB network. No profit is being made.

NOTE TO READERS: This is story six in my story series. If you haven't read the others you should. The stories build on the other. The series in order should be read: Uninvited, Whisper, Going Under, Until it Sleeps, and If I Could Be Where You Are.

For those of you having problems with sequel notifications since I've opted to do individual installments versus a chapter story you may want to use author alert rather than a story alert, at least on the story series installments.

Side Note: the song Down with the Sickness that is sung by the group Disturbed inspired the title of this story.

EPISODE TIE-IN NOTICE: In my story series the time line and events closely follow the TV series, but with obvious deviations, as this is sort of a loose AU. The episode "Shadow" hasn't occurred yet in my stories, but everything before that episode has happened. This story will start to tie into the episode "Shadow" and bring out some details that the show itself hasn't explained or expanded on more. This story will bring forth details and come up again for the next story that will happen either in the "Shadow" time frame or just after it.

Down with the Sickness

By Dawn Nyberg

Looking at my own reflection. When suddenly it changes! Violently it changes! Oh no, there is no turning back now, you've woken up the demon in me …Open up your hate, and let it flow into me…Madness is the gift, that has been given to me…I can see inside you, the sickness is rising, don't try to deny what you feel, will you give it to me? It seems that all that was good has died and is decaying in me…Oh no, the world is a scary place, now that you've woken up the demon in me! …Get down with the sickness… Lyrics by Disturbed, song Down with the Sickness

Dean passed the welcome sign to Boothbay Harbor and he felt his stomach clench at the anticipation of seeing his brother. He idly noted that it seemed like a quiet town, woods, lakes, and boats. It was serene. He pulled into town and stopped the car and dialed the number given to him by Kieran Brennan. He was surprised as a woman's voice answered. "Hello?"

"Hi, um, could I talk to Mr. Brennan? This is Dean Winchester." Samaire smiled at the tentative voice on the other end, and glanced out the window at Sam down by the lake going through his relaxation exercises that Kieran encouraged. "Sure, one moment," Dean could hear the female voice call out for the man he hadn't yet be able to put a face to the voice or name yet.

"Dean? You're in town now," it was a statement and not a question, and it made Dean bristle a bit. He knew nothing about this man other than Sam was with him. "I told you Dean I'm someone you can trust." Kieran assured. "Your questions will be answered, and you have many," he chuckled.

"You're a psychic aren't you?" Dean's voice held an accusatory tone.

"Nothing gets by you," Kieran jested. "You have the directions, yes?"

"Yeah."

"Good, I'll be waiting."

"Mr. Brennan," Dean hesitated. "Sam still doesn't know I'm coming does he?"

"No, and call me Kieran." Dean nodded as if he expected the man on the other end to see it. "I'll see you shortly Dean." And the connection ended. Suddenly Dean felt a small hint of anxiety at seeing Sam again. Would Sam be happy to see him or would it push him away and cause him to run again? Two months was a long time, and he had to laugh at the notion of that when he recalled he and Sam had been separated for two years while his kid brother attended Stanford, but somehow these past two months were worse. Dean figured it was because he had no idea where his little brother was, and whether he was safe or not. He followed the directions through town and turned off on a road that ran along waterfront properties and boat slips. He saw the driveway with the address numbers 1481, and knew this was the driveway. It was a long driveway and he felt like he was driving up into a nature preserve rather than a place people lived. And then he saw the massive cabin adorning the top of the hill.

"Damn Sammy," Dean said to himself in the empty car. "What'd you do? Go and find the Donald Trump of the great outdoors?" He parked the car, and as he was getting out he could hear the front door open and turned toward the noise. He saw a tall man that had a gentle face, but his presence demanded respect. He reminded him of his and Sam's father. He watched the man smile, as he descended the stairs toward him.

"Dean," Kieran began. "It's nice to put a face to the name and the things I've heard from Sam." He extended his hand toward the young man. And was met by an unsure, but knowing expression.

"How about we say we did, and don't," he said flatly looking at the extended hand. Kieran laughed.

"Just checking. I wanted to see how sharp you were, I'm sorry."

"Did Sam shake your hand?"

"I was honest with your brother and told him I could read him, and he gave me his hand."

"Would it help Sammy if I did this?"

"Not necessarily, but that's up to you Dean. I make no judgments and I won't run to him and air all your secrets," Kieran said with a knowing smile. Dean returned a tentative smile to the man, and extended his hand. "It's good to meet you Dean."

"Likewise." The handshake was firm, and over quickly. "Where's Sam?"

"Follow me," and both men turned toward the steps and made their way up to the front porch. Kieran knew this young man loved his little brother, and would in fact guard him fiercely if need be, and he was comforted by the fact that he knew Dean accept his sibling no matter what. They walked into the front great room. And, were greeted by Samaire.

"Hello, you must be the big brother," Samaire smiled. She watched the young man blush in her presence. He had the air of bravado when he walked in the door, but it melted under her warm smile.

"Dean," he answered quietly as he extended a hand. She smiled.

"I'm a hugger, Dean," and she promptly hugged Dean to herself briefly in welcome. "Now, I know you're anxious to see Sam, but I thought I'd show you to your room first. He's down by the lake." The phone rang, and Kieran excused himself to answer it while Samaire took Dean to his room. "You're to the right Dean across from your brother. This one is Sam's room," she pointed. "Here drop your things and find me in the kitchen. I'll point you in the direction of Sam."

"Thanks."

"Of course."

Dean dropped his duffel bag on his bed, and noticed he had his own bathroom. He felt the anticipation and anxiety swelling in him again like a wave approaching a beach. He stepped out into the hallway and glanced into Sam's room. He stepped inside, and looked around. He stopped at a chair that had a t-shirt placed over the back, and he smiled. He picked it up, and recognized it as his little brother's. It was the first new tangible piece of Sammy he had to touch in two months aside from the letter Sam had left at the motel that fateful night he slipped into the great unknown and disappeared. He put the shirt back down and left the room.

The kitchen was large and had all the perks of a gourmet kitchen. He smelled cookies baking. "I know," Samaire laughed lightly. "A bit of a cliché with the fresh baked cookies, but I thought some warm chocolate chips would be a good snack for you boys later." Dean nodded.

"Sam," he began, but didn't finish as Kieran came back into the room.

"I can point you to him Dean," Kieran spoke. He walked to the door leading out to the deck and back stairs. Dean stood stock-still. "It's okay Dean," he assured. "No reason to be apprehensive. It's Sam, after all. Dean grinned and the smile was genuine. "Oh, and don't be afraid of the dogs if they run up to you. They're harmless." Dean nodded.

He walked down the stairs toward the path leading to the lake and Sam. His heart was in his throat. He saw Sam in the distance. He was throwing a stick and both dogs were bounding off into the distance. He watched his brother and saw him smile. He even heard him laugh. And, it caused him to involuntarily smile, too. He stopped about twenty-feet from his brother up on the path, and just watched. He watched Sam crouch down to pick up the stick as the dogs returned and stand up again to throw it. He noticed Sam held himself differently. He was stronger in some way. He seemed surer of himself. He even seemed taller, and he inwardly laughed at that notion. Sam looked out over the water, as the dogs ran off. Dean watched his brother, and then he saw a change in him, as if he felt something, and he turned. Their eyes locked with one another. Sam felt an emotion he couldn't even define. He looked up the path and standing there looking at him warmly was his big brother.

"Dean?" his voice was quiet and thick with emotion.

Dean smiled broadly at his little brother. He could see it in Sam's face. His brother had no dark circles, no tight lines of exhaustion. He looked so much younger. His bushy dark bangs moved in the lake breeze. Dean walked toward Sam with a determined stride, and Sam met him halfway. Dean grabbed Sam crushing him in a bear hug. "Sammy," he choked, and he felt Sam tremble against him.

"God! Dean," his little brother's voice hiccupped with the sound of holding back a sob. Dean just held on tighter, and Sam clung to his big brother. Dean reached up and cupped the back of his brother's head firmly while he held him tightly. Sam's grip hadn't lessened either. Sam shifted his head and buried it in his brother shoulder. Dean stopped fighting the burning in his eyes, and allowed silent tears to fall.

"Sammy," Dean's voice was tight with emotion. "It's good to see you geek." Sam pulled back with a quiet laugh. Dean looked at his brother close up, and he saw the tracks of the tears he had cried. He reached up with a hand and brushed away an errant tear with his thumb gently. He smiled at his little brother. "You good?"

"Yeah," Sam answered genuinely. "You?"

"I am now." And, Dean pulled Sam into another uncharacteristic hug. Kieran watched the reunion of the two brothers with Samaire at his side from a kitchen bay window that had a view of the lake and path.

"They love one another," Samaire commented softly to her husband.

"Yes, and it'll be their best weapon for the darkness that is coming." Samaire wrapped her arm around Kieran's waist.

"I'm afraid for them, Kieran."

"Yes, I am too." The couple turned away from the window and went back to dinner preparations and allowed Dean and Sam their privacy.

"So," Dean's voice tentative. "You look good." Sam smirked and dropped his head shyly as he offered a lopsided grin to his older brother. Dean felt a warmth he hadn't realized he'd been missing inside himself flair again at the sight of that lopsided grin he'd known almost his entire life.

"Thanks," Sam's voice was soft and contemplative. "Kieran called you, huh?"

"Yeah," Dean answered and then wrinkled his forehead. "How'd you?" He was cut off by this knowing grin from his brother. "You little shit," he replied with a smile. "You read my thoughts didn't you?"

"Guilty," Sam smiled. "Sorry."

"So, psychic wonder," he started. "I guess you've got a lot to tell me, huh? Why don't we start with the whole astral projection thing," Dean cast his green-hazel eyes at his brother. "You know you scared the crap out of me with that one."

"Yeah, I didn't mean to. Dad looked like a deer in headlights for a second. It was priceless." Sam chuckled.

The two brothers talked for over an hour down by the lake sitting on some large boulders under the green canopy of trees. Sam spoke to Dean about Kieran and what the man had been helping him with. Dean was taken aback by everything his brother had managed to harness within himself over the past two months. "Sammy," Dean was hesitant.

"Yeah?"

"You're not reading my mind right now are you? I mean, well…"

"I can turn it off, Dean. Otherwise, as Kieran explained two-way conversations would become pointless. And, anyway I don't want to crawl into your head," he offered with candor.

"Why not? It's such a handsome head," he joked in response.

"You haven't changed at all, Dean."

"Hey, just so that you know this… you're not off the hook you know for leaving me at the motel and ditching me. What the hell were you thinking, Sammy?"

"I left a letter," he answered quietly.

"And, that makes it okay? Geez, Sammy," Dean groused. "Since you brought up the letter let's talk about that," his eyes were fierce, but his face remained soft. "What was that shit about you saying things would have been better if you'd never been born? And, trying to blame yourself again for Mom and Jess dying. It wasn't your fault, Sammy! And, that whole something bad is coming, and let's not forget the cryptic mumbo-jumbo about Dad may have to do something I won't understand."

"Dean, I'm sorry. I know the letter lacked some things, but I had so much to say, and I tried… I didn't expect to…" And, Dean knew what Sam was trying to say, but held back. He didn't expect to see Dean again, not really. He had really intended to just disappear into the world.

"Expect to what?" Dean pushed. "See me again?" Sam met his brother's eyes and held the glance for a long moment before dropping his eyes staring down at his hands.

"Yeah, that was the plan," Sam's voice was soft. "But, then I got a vision from Kieran and I ended up here. And, then he called you."

"I'm glad he did. Would you have?"

"Yes," Sam looked at Dean once again. "I felt like I had more control over some things that I could…" he suddenly stopped what he was going to say.

"That you could what?" Dean wasn't going to let his brother dodge this one. He had a feeling this was important.

"Nothing, never mind."

"Sam," Dean growled. "That you could what?" He stared at his brother, his glare intense.

"Dean."

"Sam."

"Ah, hell, we're not doing this," Sam spoke as he stood abruptly and started walking away from his brother and approached the waters edge.

"Yes we are, and don't walk away from me, Sam." Dean voice held a serious tone.

"Watch me." Sam proceeded to continue to walk away from his older brother on the water's edge. Suddenly he felt himself propelled into the water as Dean tackled him. He came up coughing out lake water. "What the hell!"

"I said don't walk away from me. Now talk! You could what, Sam?" Dean shouted. Sam attempted to pull from his brother's grasp, but Dean held firm. "You're not goin' anywhere, Sammy."

"Leave it alone," Sam yelled. "Better yet leave me alone!" Those words slapped Dean across the face, but they didn't deter him. Dean knew that Sam was afraid of what he almost divulged and he was avoiding with a standard bob and weave tactic with some bravado thrown in, and it wasn't going to work. He grabbed Sam tightly at the shoulders and made his kid brother face him. They were both kneeling in the lake water up to their mid thighs.

"Tell me dammit," Dean screamed. "What is it Sam? What could you do?" He shook Sam. And, then he saw it in his little brother's eyes, and he watched his face shatter into a million different emotions.

"Stop you from dying for me!" He screamed back. "I can protect you from it," his voice died off as he crumbled into himself and Dean pulled him to his chest and held him. They were on their knees, soaking wet, and suddenly nothing mattered in that moment, but the moment itself.

"Sammy," Dean began his voice soft, but assertive. "It's not your job to protect me. It's not the way this works. Look I know that you'd do anything for me, even die."

"But, you won't let me," Sam countered without looking at his brother. Dean chuckled quietly.

"Ah, no, not if I can help it. Remember what I said to you in Michigan?"

"Yeah."

"What did I say?"

"That as long as you were around nothing bad was going to happen to me."

"Yeah, you got it."

"But, that's it Dean. You'll die before something happens to me, and then what? I can't let that happen, but now I can stop it."

"A speaking of 'it' what did you mean when you said 'protect me from it?' It what?" Sam looked away suddenly, and Dean felt a sick heaviness settle into his chest. He didn't have to be a mind reader to figure this one out. "You mean the demon, don't you?" Sam remained silent. "Sam," Dean's tone was dangerous. And, he saw an almost unperceivable nod from his brother. "What's going on Sam? What about the demon?"

"He…" Sam's voice shook. "He's in here," Sam put a hand on the side of his head. "But, he can't get to me now, not here."

"Sammy you're not making any sense," Dean was concerned. And, then the truth settled into his mind like a sudden epiphany. "The visions? He's giving you the seizures. That bastard gets to you in your dreams?"

"I give myself the seizures," Sam offered. And, when he saw the alarmed look cross his big brother's face he added quickly, "when I resist him getting in, or if a vision goes in a direction I don't want and I change it in my head."

"Huh?" Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. This was too much sudden information to assimilate.

"I know it's a lot," Sam smiled slightly. "Try being in my shoes." Dean looked at his brother and held his gaze.

"Sammy, I'd take your place in a second if it'd keep you from all of this."

"I know. Dean?"

"Yeah?"

"I've met him," his voice casual.

"What!" Dean nearly erupted from his own skin. "Christ, All Mighty! When?" Sam had to stifle a small snicker at his big brother's wild eyes and reaction.

"Calm down, dude. You'll give yourself an aneurysm."

"When, Sam? What did he do to you?"

"It happened when we did that house exorcism."

"I knew the demon in that house approached you, but it was 'The Demon'."

Sam nodded. "Yes. He planned the meeting."

Sam and Dean had removed themselves from the lake water a short while ago as they continued to talk. Sam told Dean what he could, but he couldn't tell his brother about the things the demon had shown him. He just knew he had to do what he could to protect his brother, and yes, even his father.

"What have you boys gotten yourselves into," Kieran asked as he stood looking at the two wet brothers as they sat on some rocks.

"Ah," Sam smiled. "Went for a quick dip," he offered as he cast an amused look at his big brother.

"Well, come on now, the sun's going down and you'll get a chill. Go clean up you two. Samaire will have dinner ready very soon." Both brothers apologized for their current soaked state. Kieran just smiled and pointed to the cabin. "Hurry up now, lads." Kieran had taken a guilty liberty as he read the boys as they walked away. He knew that they had been fighting and that was why they were wet, and he knew that Sam had told Dean about the evil that invades his mind, but not all of it, and he feared that Sam never would. And, suddenly, he wondered if he had trained Sam to access some his abilities in order to protect his family, but not necessarily save himself. And, he realized something in that moment that Sam was able to mask, and bury thoughts deep enough that even Kieran had been locked out, and he was certain Sam wasn't even aware that he could. He hoped this last month ahead of them would give him the time to insure Sam saved himself as well, but part of him couldn't shake the thought that the young man had every intention of sacrificing himself for his families well being and safety.

Dinner had been pleasant, and Dean had happily agreed to stay on for Sam's final month of training. After dinner was cleared away and Kieran and Samaire had left for their bedroom for the evening Sam and Dean congregated in Dean's room. "So, I get a months vacation why you do your psychic wonder stuff, huh?"

"Yeah, guess so, but don't feel like you have to stay." Dean looked at his little brother with a 'you've got to be kidding me' look.

"Ah, yeah, I thought I'd head out in the morning. I came, I saw. Blah, blah." Dean smiled. "You know Sam, I know you're supposed to be the smart one, but man, can you be so stupid sometimes." Sam awarded Dean with his dimpled lopsided grin.

"Yeah, if I only had a brain," he replied with a singsong voice. Dean laughed.

"Well, this ain't OZ, Sammy." Dean offered. "Geez, you remember how scared you were of that wicked witch, 'I'll get you my pretty'? See, you were a certifiable freak even then, you were like what, seven or eight. And, you loved the flying monkeys, but the freakin' witch scared you." Dean was amused at the memory.

"Shut up," Sam grumbled. "I was a kid. And, the monkeys were cool," he offered. "What was to be afraid of?" Dean smiled warmly.

"Sam?" Dean's tone shifted suddenly. Sam moved restlessly on the corner of the bed.

"Yeah?"

"We gotta call Dad, and tell him about the demon. You know that right?"

"Telling him won't change anything."

"Change what?"

"Nothing. Yeah, I guess he needs to know. You do it." Dean grabbed his cell phone. Sam stood up to leave.

"Hey, where are you going?"

"I don't want to be around for this conversation. I'll be around."

"Sam?"

"No, it's okay, Call him."

"I want to talk more when I'm done, okay?"

"Yeah." Sam turned and left the room closing the door quietly behind himself with a soft click.

Sacramento, California

John Winchester had made his way back to California after leaving Lawrence, and he now sat ensconced in another cheap motel room with his books, and papers spread out. He knew there had to be something more to buried in the various texts in front of him. His friend Caleb had given him some more notes on the prophecy that John was sure was about Sam. His cell phone rang, and he glanced at the clock and it was 1 AM. He got up and looked at the caller ID, and saw Dean's name. And, he picked up knowing it had to be important, and maybe he had news on Sammy.

"Dean?" He kept his voice even, and void of emotion, but his heart was still in his throat.

"Dad?" The surprise in his voice couldn't be masked. He had anticipated the voice mail would be his confidant.

"Are you okay?" John asked abruptly.

"Yeah," Dean paused. "I'm calling about Sammy." John clutched the phone a little tighter.

"Is your brother all right? Have you heard from him?"

"He's fine Dad." Dean paused, and in that ocean of short silence John Winchester knew there was a storm brewing. And, he knew all was not fine, not really.

"Dean," his tone went low. "What is going on?"

"The demon, Dad," Dean decided jumping right in was the best way to go on this one.

"What about it, Dean?" John could feel the alarm growing inside his chest. "Dean, where is Sam?"

"I'm with him, Dad. He stepped out, but he's fine. He's safe." Dean could hear a slight exhale of relief come over the phone.

"What about the demon?" John's tone was dark.

"He's been in Sam's head Dad," Dean wasn't even sure he understood it all, but he tried to convey the facts to his father. "Dad, a while ago Sam and I did this job that involved a demon in a house. We exorcised, or I thought we did. It turns out it was the demon that killed Mom. It planned the meeting in order to get to Sammy. I didn't see it, but I heard it. I got knocked out. I don't know…" Dean paused for a second. His thoughts were flying through his mind. "Dad, I know Sam's hiding something. When I was able to get to him after the demon had had him. He was unconscious and bleeding from his nose. He fell apart that night Dad. I know something happened, but what it was I don't know."

"It's okay Dean," John tried to assure his eldest even though he himself was scared beyond comprehension. "Where are you boys?"

"I can't tell you Dad. It wouldn't be safe. Sam told me he's safe here and that the demon can't find him while he's here. But, if it's watching and listening near you, I can't take that chance."

"I understand." John was proud of his firstborn. "How is Sammy, really?"

"He's good, Dad. He's learned a few things while here. And, let me say the astral projection thing is just the tip of the iceberg."

"The man that is teaching him… you trust him?"

"Yeah, Dad, I do. And, so does Sam."

"When are you leaving?"

"In another month. I guess he needs some more training or something."

"Okay, look Dean when you leave call me," John began. "I want to see you boys in Lawrence afterward. I'll meet you there… just call me okay?"

"Yeah, sure Dad. Hey, you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. You don't have to worry about me. You boys be careful."

"We will," Dean assured.

"Take care of yourself Dean, and your brother."

"I will."

"Call me. And, tell your brother I said hi."

"Yes, sir."

Father and son said their goodbyes and Dean closed his cell, and got up to go find his little brother. He stepped out of his room, and walked into Sam's room lightly knocking on the open door as he did, "Hey, Sammy?" No answer. It didn't take long to surmise his brother wasn't in his room, but his belongings were where they were supposed to be, so Dean didn't fear another disappearing act.

He walked through the kitchen dimly lit by a single light over the kitchen sink. He saw Sam sitting out on the back porch, but there was something different. His eyes were closed and he sat very still. He walked out to the deck and watched his brother for a long moment. There was perspiration on his forehead. "Sammy?" His voice was a mere whisper, but held concern. "Sam?" There was no response. He almost reached out and touched him, but was afraid to. Damn, what is this some kind of trance or something? What do I do? His mind filled with thoughts. But, it wasn't until Sam's breath's hitched in his throat and he started to slump forward that Dean grabbed him and lowered him to the floor of the deck. Sam didn't awaken, and he was looking worse by the second. Dean got up and ran into the house yelling for help.

"Help! It's Sam!" He heard a banging noise as Kieran threw open his and Samaire's bedroom door, and then saw the light flicker on as Samaire followed behind Kieran tying her robe around her. Dean was all ready back at Sam's side. His brother's breathing sounded harsh and short, and Dean could swear it was getting more infrequent in gasps.

Sam felt odd and he knew the reason he had stayed in the astral plain too long, but he wasn't finished. He had someone to see. He knew the demon couldn't trace his location while in this state, but he had to do this, whether he was ready or not. "Samuel, my chosen, you've come home." The demon walked out of the shadows. The room suddenly became illuminated with candles, and Sam recognized the room from his visions. He saw the altar, the black book, and knew this was the unholy place he had feared.

"I want you to leave my family alone. I don't want them hurt."

"Child, human bonds are so pointless. Why do you torture yourself so?"

"They are my family. I don't want them harmed."

"They put themselves in harm's way, Samuel. Your father hunts me I hunt him. It's that simple."

"What are you saying? If my father walks away, you'll leave them in peace. They'll be safe?"

"Your father and brother will always hunt, Samuel."

"What will it take to make them safe? I want them to live."

"You know," the demon approached and reached a hand up toward Sam's transparent form. "You, standing at my side. My chosen." The demon smiled. "You've learned much child, but you still have so much potential. You've even managed to hide yourself from my senses. Oh, Samuel, come to me and learn your power could make the whole world wail, and grovel at your feet. Stand at my side."

"I can't…" Sam stammered as he stepped back.

"But you will," the demon encouraged. "You'll become the hunted in order to save them… your father and your brother. Your father will kill you given the chance, but you know this, as I've shown you."

"He'll be my release from your damnation, my salvation."

"What salvation? When you come to me all will be stripped away. And, I stress 'when' because it is only a matter of time. There will be no father, no brother. Nothing. They will be nothing to you. You will be mine flesh and bone. Mine, do you understand?" Sam didn't mean to nod, but he did.

"They won't stop looking for me," Sam's voice was hushed.

"No." the demon hissed.

"They'll die." It wasn't a question, Sam knew that his family would come for him, but only his father would know that there would be nothing left of his Sam, but he could release his son from the evil in death. Dean would believe to his last breath that his kid brother could be saved. Sam couldn't let them sacrifice themselves. He couldn't let his big brother die for him.

"There is a way to save them," the demon offered, but suddenly he looked concerned. "You foolish child, you're dying!" he spat. "You've stayed too long. You're no use to be dead. The prophecy must be fulfilled. You are the chosen. My chosen. You will not die this day." And, Sam felt himself being pushed back across the astral plain, but he held on screaming to the demon.

"What way?" he screamed. "You said there was a way?"

"Leave now," roared out of the demon's mouth.

Kieran hunched over Sam doing compressions while Dean pushed air into his brother's lungs. "Dammit, where's the ambulance?" Kieran shouted. Samaire shouted across the living room.

"It's turning up the driveway now."

"Sammy," Dean choked. "Come on, breathe."

Kieran placed his stethoscope against Sam's bare chest having cut the boys t-shirt off of him early on. "Sam, listen to your brother." He heard nothing, only silence. Sam's heart was not beating. He resumed compressions. Dean followed suit by breathing for his brother. Footfalls through the living room could be heard.

"Dr. Brennan?" one of the medics chirped.

"Give me epi in a cardiac needle, now," he barked. The paramedics eased Dean out of the way as one took over respirations for Sam by placing an ambu bag over his nose and mouth. Another placed electrodes on his chest. Kieran deftly inserted the needle into Sam's chest directly into his heart, and gave Sam a solid fist thump. He looked at the monitor and could see a faint trace of a line. "He's in V-Fib," Kieran shouted. "Charge the paddles to 250." He shocked Sam and Dean involuntarily flinched at the sight of his little brother arching up off the wooden deck floor. Kieran glanced at the monitor, and Dean stared at him and saw the relief pass over his face, "He's back," Kieran breathed. "He's in sinus rhythm. Keep bagging him I don't hear any breath sounds," Kieran spoke as he listened to Sam's chest.

"Sammy," Dean reached out and brushed back his brother's bangs with a gentle touch his eyes shining with tears.

"Careful with him," Kieran aided the medics in loading Sam onto a rolling gurney. "I'm going with him. He's under my care."

"Sure thing Dr. Brennan."

Four Hours Later

Dean sat rubbing his face trying to understand everything Kieran had explained to him a short while ago. His mind reflected back to that conversation. "Dean," Kieran looked tired and concern drew the corners of his eyes and mouth tight. "Sam astral projected, and for whatever reason he stayed longer than he should have. He knew better."

"So, you're saying he knew he could die?"

"Yes," Kieran explained. "He had trained for projecting and had learned to keep track of his time. He knew going too long could kill him. And, I'm concerned about what or who he felt compelled to locate."

"You don't think…" Dean's voice trailed off.

"I think for whatever reason despite my advice he went to see the evil that plagues your family." Dean had other things to worry about. Sam had been clinically dead for several minutes, and right now he needed to know about his brother.

"What about Sam?" Kieran's eyes clouded with worry.

"He's critical Dean. I'm not going to lie to you. I think he was projecting for well over 30 minutes. You weren't with him?"

"No, I told him I was going to call our Dad and tell him Sam was safe and I was with him. So, Sam left the room and I told him we'd talk after I finished."

"How long were you on the phone?"

"I don't know… maybe 45 minutes. I don't know," Dean felt guilty. Sam wouldn't be in the ICU if he'd been with him.

"It's not your fault Dean. Sam did this to himself. He knew the risks and you couldn't have prevented it. He could have done this at any time. It is not your fault, do you understand?" Dean nodded, but didn't really believe Kieran. And, the man knew this, but he'd keep assuring the boy if he had too. "Now, about Sam's condition…"

"Is he…could he…" Dean fought to say the words, but they refused to leave his mouth.

"Die?" Kieran filled in and Dean offered a shaky nod.

"Dean, I'm going to up front with you, and I don't think you need me to mince words, so I won't. Sam is in a bad way. He was resuscitated, but he hasn't reclaimed in consciousness, and for all intents and purposes he's in a deep coma. He's unresponsive, and I've put him on a ventilator to breathe for him. And, I have him on various IV meds helping to support his cardiac output."

"Can you read him?" Dean's voice shook despite his efforts to show no weakness. "Is he in there? I can't lose him, not now."

"When I try to get in his head, Dean, all I see is darkness. I don't feel him."

"You can't give up on him, please," Dean's voice betrayed him as he begged this man to save his brother.

"I have no intensions in doing that Dean. I promise." Kieran comforted. " I'll take you to him. I think your presence will help, and I encourage you to talk to him."

"But, you said you don't feel him. How will I know he can hear me?"

"You won't, but it's my hope your voice and presence will cross over whatever void separates him from this world, his body, and you."

"What do I say?" Kieran smiled at the young man.

"Anything, Dean. Just talk to your brother. The words will come."

Dean snapped out of his thoughts and looked at his brother. He studied his still features, and he really did feel Sam was absent from this shell of a body that looked like his kid brother. "Kieran said to talk to you Sammy, but all I want to do is kick your ass right now. What were you thinking? Oh, yeah, you weren't, stupid idiot." Dean's voice was angry, but not overly loud or harsh. He held his brother's hand gently despite the anger that coursed through him over his brother's actions. "Man, I'm with you for the first time in two months, for a few hours and I'm all ready well into a bedside vigil. This is becoming a habit, and I hate this. God, Sam, this isn't how it was supposed to be seeing you again." Dean held his brother's hand in his own as he stroked it gently with the thumb of his other hand before enveloping Sam's hand completely between his own hands.

"This was a piss poor decision you made tonight Sammy," Dean berated his brother. "And, Kieran thinks you went to see that thing, that demon. Did you? Huh?" Dean half expected his kid brother to wake up and defend himself against his brother's accusations, but he remained unmoving, and the ventilator continued to move his chest up and down mechanically. "Well, if you did Sammy, you're a fucking idiot, you know that? What am I supposed to tell Dad, huh? Damn, I haven't even called him to tell him what happened. Man, will he be pissed with you." Dean wanted so desperately to reach his brother and if it took him yelling at him even in this state he would. Finally, mental exhaustion won out and Dean drifted off in his chair still holding his brother's hand. The need for physical contact with his brother was strong, as it confirmed he was still with him, alive.

Sam was in a dark place. It felt familiar to him and he knew why, it was the place he'd been in during his dreams. "Where are you?" His voice was strong and sure of himself. His fear replaced by rage. "I know you're here," he spat. "I can feel you."

"Good boy, Samuel," you've embraced some of your gifts, but there is so much more to learn, and I can help with that. And, your current state will give us that time, my child."

"I'm not your child. I all ready have a father, and his name is John Winchester."

"True, but for how long?"

"Don't threaten my family," Sam's voice was dangerous.

"Watch your tone, boy," the demon hissed. "I will only tolerate your insolence so far."

"Really? I'm your chosen," Sam replied with hatred. "You won't kill me."

"Kill? No, but I can hurt you or those you love."

"I'll see you dead first, and myself included if that's what it takes to protect my family."

"Well, you've done a fine job of almost killing yourself all ready, young pup. Do you even realize how close you're hovering to the edge now?"

"If it saves my family I'll let myself go," Sam threatened. And, then he remembered what the demon had said to him when he told him he had to return to his body, 'that there was a way to save them.' "You said there was a way to save them, right?"

"Yes, but I'll talk of that later. Now is not the time. We have much to accomplish while you're here."

"Where is here? It looks like where we always been. I thought you said I had to go back because I was dying."

"You're somewhere in between. You haven't returned to your body yet, but the body lives. I've recreated this place for you as a point of reference; otherwise, this place is nothingness, a black void."

"So, I'm supposed to believe you've done this for my benefit," Sam would almost sound amused if he wasn't so pissed.

"I can feel your rage, and it warms my heart," the demon mused.

"Heart? Like you have one."

"True enough," he laughed. "I cannot show your full potential in this state, but I can teach you one thing if you wish to avoid that psychic reading you."

"How did you know?" Sam had tried very hard to block the knowledge of Kieran from his thoughts.

"In your struggle between life and death you dropped your walls just a little and I was able to see. But, you must keep him out of your head or he will know all about this and our long chat."

"You won't hurt him?"

"I have no intention to do so," the demon encouraged. "He has provided a service that I'm quite thankful for. He began your training. But, he has done what he can, other than fine tuning, so to speak."

"You said my body still lives," Sam was curious about what was happening to his body, and he felt a pang of guilt for putting his brother through another scare.

"You were dead, but the good doctor brought you back, however, you linger very close to crossing over, and I cannot allow that."

"Why am I so important to you? I don't believe that there aren't others like me. I can't believe that they have all killed themselves."

"There are others in some variation or the other, but they don't possess what you do, and cannot fulfill my plans. You are the chosen. You are the one written of in the prophecy." He gestured toward the altar and a large black book. "Your coming was written in the great Grimoire. Your power has been written in the pages of the Key of Solomon Grimoire. You possess the power to command an army of demons, and summon the dark to bend at your will. You are the end of days, Samuel. My chosen."

Sam felt fear at those words, but he held his ground. "Who are you?"

"I have told you I have many names."

"Who are you? I will not ask again." His tone lowered and he felt something creep up into him and it was the buried darkness inside him that slipped into his voice, and he saw the demon shudder ever so slightly. And, Sam realized then that there was something truly powerful in himself that should be feared, and obviously this demon did, although the fear was quickly gone from his features, a candle in the wind.

"Ahriman, is one of my many names."

"Your true name," Sam demanded.

"Wise boy, you know more than you lead on." Ahriman quipped. "You know that once a demon gives his true name you may access their power, smart boy. You haven't disappointed me." He smiled almost lovingly at Sam, almost.

Sam noticed a necklace hung around the neck of Ahriman. It bore a symbol, he hadn't seen before, a circle with curving edges almost like blades coming from the circle and sweeping out. "What is that?" Ahriman glanced at where the boy was pointing.

"One of your many legacies I will pass onto you when you come to me fully."

"Yada-yada," Sam was irritated. "I asked what it was," he asserted. "What does that symbol mean?"

"It is for the Daevas," he began. "I am their creator and leader. They do my bidding or that of any who I give the power to."

"Daevas? More demons?"

"They are my trusted soldiers and quite vicious. They are an ancient evil. They do have a love of ripping flesh and shredding souls." Sam was reviled by that statement.

"How ancient?"

"I created them out of boredom at first, but then to do battle against my enemies. They are over two millennia old, and I of course much older."

"What are you?"

"I am the dark," he began. "I bring chaos and fear, doubt and anarchy." He smiled. "Samuel, my sweet chosen, I existed before time began and I will exist when time has ended." And, with sickening clarity Sam understood, and he knew.

"You're the first," his voice shook slightly despite trying to steal his emotions. "You're the first evil." Ahriman approached Sam slowly, and touched his face. Sam recoiled from the contact. The demon smiled.

"I am the first, but you Sam, are the last." And, Sam felt his world ignite his mind in flames, and realization of what he was destined to be, what he all ready was. No, not me, Sam begged inside his head to anything that would listen. He pulled away, and the room dissolved and darkness consumed him. Ahriman's voice whispering into the dark, "Learn what I have to give," and Sam felt something grasp his head in the dark filling his head with the knowledge of how to lock his mind from psychic intrusions and readings. "Remember who you are Samuel." And, words in Latin played into the black pitch and filled Sam's head, "Quod me nutrit me destruit," and Sam understood, and felt a piece of himself die and another piece flamed into being, the words were horribly right, 'what nourishes me destroys me.' And, the void consumed him.

Five Days Later, 7:00 PM, ICU

Sam felt himself surfacing into a dimly lit haze. It seemed that an eternity had passed since he had entered the black void filled with absolute silence after the demon's Latin words had faded away. His mind still filled with every horrible realization he had come to while with the demon. His eyes slid open slowly, and he took stock of his situation. The first thing he discovered was that a tube snaked down his throat and he heard the whoosh of a ventilator. He had to fight his instinct to pull it out, and the sensation of choking. And, once he calmed himself it didn't bother him and he left it alone. He heard the steady beep of a heart monitor, and then he saw him, the one person that he so desperately wanted to protect from the truth his brother, Dean. His big brother was slouched down in his chair and asleep. Sam watched the steady rise and fall of Dean's chest. His brother looked tired, and Sam knew he was the cause of that. But, there was another form in the room just beyond Dean reclining in a chair with its head leaned back against the wall.

Sam studied the shadowy figure and at first he thought it was Kieran, but he stared longer, and then with absolute certainty he knew whom the figure was, his father. He felt his heart rate increase and it showed on the heart monitor, as the beeps increased ever so slightly. Dean remained asleep, but the shadowy figure Sam was certain was his father sat up instantly and leaned forward into the dim light of the room at the sound of his son's heart rate change, and their eyes met. John Winchester rose instantly and moved quietly around Dean to Sam's side.

"Hey Sammy," his voice was gentle. "Don't try to talk," he instructed. "You've got a tube in your throat to help you breathe." Sam couldn't look away from his Dad. Yes, he'd astral projected to Lawrence and had seen his Father and they'd even had a very brief conversation, but this was truly the first time in over two years he was really seeing his Dad. John reached out and stroked his son's bangs away from his forehead. "You had me scared kiddo," John's voice whispered trying to insure Dean remained asleep for a bit longer. His first-born had stayed by Sam every day only leaving to stretch his legs or shower at the cabin at his Father's orders to do so. Although, Sam couldn't really smile at his Dad, a smile reached his eyes and John saw it. "It's going to be okay, Sammy. You've just been taking a little nap, and you're going to be okay." He looked down when he felt Sam touch his hand that was on his bedside. He picked up his youngest son's hand and squeezed gently.

"Sammy?" The sleep-inflected voice of Dean could be heard, and Sam turned his head toward the voice of his big brother, and the moment their eyes met Dean stood abruptly and was at his little brother's side instantly. "Sammy," Dean smiled as he reached out a tentative hand to touch his brother's shoulder. Dean fought the urge to show more affection toward Sam in front of their Father, as the Winchester upbringing tore at him. He looked at his Dad and watched him push back his brother's bangs in comforting sweeps rubbing his forehead softly with a broad thumb. John Winchester shifted his eyes from Sam to his son Dean, and smiled. Dean's resolve shattered, and he touched Sam's cheek, "Damnit Sam, you scared the shit out of me."

"Language Dean," their Father's voice suggested.

"Yes, sir." Dean could see that Sam wanted to talk. "Hey, hey, don't even try it kiddo. Wait until that freakin' tube is out." He offered an assuring squeeze on his brother's shoulder.

The John and Dean sat with Sam while they waited for Kieran to arrive after Dean had him paged. The evening outside the window was, as Dean glanced at the clock it was just a little before 8 PM now. "Hey, Sammy, Kieran is on his way. You know he saved your life at the cabin. He's also your doctor." Sam nodded. He motioned for something to write on, and John quickly provided a small notepad from his jacket and a pen. "Here you go son."

Sam wrote: Sorry I screwed up. I know I'm in trouble. I wasn't thinking. Sorry. John and Dean looked at each other as their youngest family member scribbled away, and then bent the pad out, so they could see. Dean read it aloud, and snorted.

"In trouble? That's putting it lightly buddy. And, that part about not thinking, yeah, your two for two."

"Dean, easy," John's voice took on a warning tone. "Now, isn't the time to set Sam straight."

"Yes, sir," John nodded.

"Sorry, Sammy," Dean apologized. "It's just…" His words trailed off. But, Sam put pen to paper again, and showed Dean.

I worried you, I know. Sorry. Dean smiled warmly at his kid brother and reached up and affectionately ruffled his hair.

"Well, look at this," Kieran's voice came from the doorway. "When I got the page that you woke up I couldn't get here fast enough Sam. Let me take a look at you." John and Dean excused themselves while Kieran closed the door to give Sam an impromptu exam.

"Sam," Kieran's voice was soft as he walked about the room getting something from the crash cart along the wall. "You've had us scared to death young man. Do you know how long you've been out?" Sam shook his head slightly. "Five days going on six," Kieran answered as he eased Sam up into a sitting position to listen to his heart.

"Your ready to have this tube taken out Sam." The youngest Winchester watched Kieran place a sterile paper mat across his lap and face him. "Okay, you're ready for this thing to be out, right?" Sam nodded. "Okay, this is how it's going to work," Kieran moved over to the ventilator. "Take a deep breath for me Sam," and Kieran looked at the gauges on the ventilator. "Okay, your tidal volumes are good, but I just wanted to make sure."

"Okay, Sam, when I tell you to I want you to take in a deep breath, and hold it. And, when I say blow, blow it out like your blowing out birthday candles, okay?" Sam eyes were anxious as he nodded he understand. "Nothing to be worried about," the man reassured the young man. "Okay, breathe in Sam." Kieran was ready to pull out the tube, "Okay, now blow out those candles." Sam gagged at the tube removal. "There all done. Piece of cake."

"Easy…" Sam's voice was a mere whisper. "for you to say," he barely finished before he began to cough.

"Easy, here sip some water. Your throat is going to be irritated for a couple days or so. Between the tube and not speaking for a few days it's to be expected."

"Thanks," was Sam's soft reply. "How long has my Dad been here?"

"Well, I think he broke land speed records getting here when your brother called him," the doctor commented with a smile. "I'm not sure where he was coming from, but he arrived several hours after Dean called him. I think he must have flown Dean said he was dropped by a cab when he arrived. He's been here four days."

"Thanks for saving my life. I know I screwed up."

"Sam I know I trained you better than that doing astral projection. You chose to stay that long didn't you?"

"Yes," Sam's voice seemed small.

"You're blocking me," Kieran commented idly as checked Sam's reflexes with an instrument. Sam cast nervous eyes toward the psychic. "I'll take that as a yes. We'll it appears you won't have to learn blocking from me, as someone else has taught it to you."

"Kieran…" Sam couldn't explain, but he felt he had to say something. "I did what I had to."

"I'm sure you feel that way Sam, but to allow that darkness to teach you is a dangerous game of Russian roulette you're playing." There was a brief flash of anger that glinted across Sam's eyes and it disappeared quickly masked behind the ever-familiar warm eyes of the young man. But, the older man had seen the brief look, and he knew that in some way the darkness had touched the young man, and that something had taken root.

"So, what do you think of my Dad," Sam said changing the subject.

"He's a good man Sam. I like him. He's a good person to have in your corner. He loves you a great deal. He and your brother are cut from the same cloth as far as not letting emotions out often, but both of them have been by your side practically non-stop except for coming to the cabin to shower, and even then one always stayed with you until the other returned."

"Yeah, Dad and Dean are two peas in a pod. Man, they've spent that much time with me?" Kieran smiled.

"Yes, they did. What did you expect? You're the youngest of the family, after all. Well, I'm sure they're both climbing the walls out there, so I'll tell them we're done in here. I'm keeping you a couple more days in here, and then you can continue to recuperate at the cabin."

"I don't want to put you out," Sam offered.

"You and your brother we're all ready going to stay an additional month, so it isn't a problem. Plus, your father is staying with us, as well. He has the extra room down from you and your brother's."

"Thanks for everything." Kieran knew it was genuine and smiled.

John and Dean both saw the doctor come out of Sam's room and they stood up from the chairs down the hall. John walked up to Kieran with Dean following at his side. "How is he?"

"I've removed the breathing tube, and things looks good. He's resilient if anything." John smiled.

"That's Sammy."

"I want to keep here another couple days, but then he can return to the cabin to rest."

"Good. Dean…" John turned to his son.

"Yes?"

"Go see your brother I want to talk to Kieran a moment or two. I'll be in shortly." Dean nodded.

"Kieran?" Dean looked the man in the eyes.

"Yes?"

"Thanks for taking care of Sammy."

"Of course."

The two older men looked at each other and John leveled a gaze on the man he'd become acquainted with over the past four days as he cared for his son. "I suspect you have questions John."

"Just one," the man's voice serious. "Was my son with the demon?"

"He's blocking me from reading him, but I'm certain he was with this demon you've spoken of. And, I believe it was this demon that taught Sam how to block me."

"No, Sam wouldn't," John's voice shook with uncertainty.

"John, I hadn't taught him blocking techniques. It was the last new thing I planned to teach him. And, I asked Sam about the blocking."

"And, what did Sam say?" John's voice became deadly.

"That he did what he had to, and then he changed the subject." John saw something pass across Kieran's face. The man was holding something back.

"What aren't you telling me? He's my son I have a right to know."

"It's nothing, it's just…" Kieran paused. "When answered me I told him he was playing Russian roulette dealing with that evil, and I saw something in his eyes, but only briefly."

"What?"

"Anger, as if he was irritated that I'd question him, but the look was so brief, and I'm sure I was looking more into to it."

"You're a psychic Kieran and a gifted one," John spoke evenly. "Something is bothering you. What is it? There's more to it than what you're saying. What did you see?"

"A darkness taking root," Kieran answered hesitantly. And, he literally felt the rush of emotions from the man in front of him. "John…" he began, but was cut off by a raise of John Winchester's hand.

"Don't… he won't have him. He won't have my son." John's eyes looked agonized. "Can he be prevented from projecting?"

"No, he can do it at will John. He learned quickly. He learned faster than I did. John, your son has abilities inside him that I can't even get my mind around. I taught him what I could from the surface abilities I could work with that I felt in him, but now I'm locked out, and he will not let his guard down. He'll never let me or another psychic in."

"What about drugs? Something to put him under, but not out, something that can let you in to read him."

"After his recent health scare I'd be afraid to use anything on him."

"But, you're saying there is something?"

"A power sedative given for procedures where the patient has to remain semi-conscious. But, it has possible dangers."

"What dangers?"

"Respiratory depression, seizure, cardiac arrhythmias. This is why it is given in a hospital setting with close monitoring."

"Possible dangers though," John hedged.

"I can't, John."

"Then I'll find some other way or someone else to help me. I have to know how far he's gone before he goes so far I can't follow."

"What are you saying?"

"I think you know. After all, you're reading me now aren't you?"

"He's your son."

"Yes, but if that demon gets a hold of him my son won't exist anymore. My youngest son will for all intents and purposes be dead and only his body will remain. I'll do what I have to, Kieran. I won't let that evil sonofabitch have my son. He wants his power, I know this and I won't let it cultivate him into a monster, an evil thing."

"Cultivate?" Kieran stared at John and then the truth began to sift into his brain. "Dear God, no. The demons means to turn him, to bring him over to darkness." John nodded.

"I'll do what I can, but I'll have to block him from reading me. And, I'll have to block you as well or at least the part of your mind that holds this plan, I only partially block you, so that he doesn't suspect. And, even then John he may suspect. Your son's abilities far eclipse mine, and once he is in full possession of them all he'll be is something to…" His voice trailed off.

"Fear," John finished the sentence.

John and Kieran decided that it was best to try sedating Sam while still at the hospital just in case something went awry. Kieran only needed a moment to see inside Sam, and then the sedative could be reversed.

Dean sat next to Sam's bed watching his little brother intently. "What, Dean?"

"What?" Dean smiled innocently.

"You're staring at me."

"I'm looking at you there's a difference. Hey, cut me some slack kiddo. You scared me, and Dad, too."

"I said I was sorry. Why's Dad talking to Kieran?"

"Probably about your condition. You had Dad pretty worried. I couldn't believe how fast he got here. I think he's been going buggy since you decided to on your little adventure," Dean's voice held a tiny hint of irritation. A lingering emotion from being left at the motel Sam suspected. "Sammy," Dean began.

"I'm not going to talk about it Dean, so drop it right now." Dean knew Sam wouldn't budge on this one, so he let it go for now. He was just glad to have Sam back, and apparently no lingering ill effects from his near death astral projection.

"Okay," Dean raised his hands in surrender just as their father came into the room. The Winchester men talked for a while and finally John stretched in his seat and looked at his boys.

"Dean?"

"Yeah?"

"I'm taking night duty with your brother and I want you to get some decent sleep, so go to the cabin tonight and sleep in your bed."

"But…"

"Don't argue with me Dean. I've all ready got one son in the hospital I don't need two. You look like hell, so go to the cabin. It's an order."

"Yes, sir."

"Hey, I'm not a baby, Dad," Sam commented. "You guys both look beat. Why don't the two of you go? I'll be all right. You can both sleep."

"I'm staying Sammy."

"Yes, sir."

John pulled up a chair next to Sammy's bed, after saying goodbye to Dean with strict orders to get a hot shower, something to eat, and a goodnights sleep. John was sitting and talking with Sam occasionally as his son drifted in and out of a light sleep. Kieran entered the room the room a little later, and both Winchester men looked at the man as he entered.

"You're still here?" Sam's voice scratchy "I thought you went home."

"No, I had a some things to take care of, plus, I wanted to make sure you actually had a good sleep, so I brought you a sedative."

"Do I really need it? I'm tired anyway," Sam questioned.

"Sam let him give it to you," John commented. "You know hoe light of a sleeper you are. I want you to rest." John was telling him the truth, but under the truth a deception was being masked, and he felt like he was betraying his son's trust. But, this had to be done.

"Okay," Sam relented.

"Sam this is pretty fast acting, so you'll start to feel a little spacey pretty quick," Kieran said as he pulled up a liquid from a vial into a syringe and injected it into Sam's IV. "It's perfectly normal to feel spacey as a twilight sleep sets in, okay."

"Spacey," Sam began. "Is an understatement," his words all ready beginning to slur. John and Kieran both watched Sam's eyes close and his breathing even out quietly.

"Do it," John mouthed to Kieran.

"Sam?" Kieran spoke softly. And the only response the man received was a mumbled response, as Sam seemed to drift into a twilight sleep. Kieran watched Sam and could feel the walls around his mind slipping down slowly. "He's open," he mouthed to John and they nodded at each other.

Kieran looked into Sam's mind, and John watched a myriad of emotions race across the man's face: fear, sadness, and then he watched the man recoil from Sam's bedside. "Holy Mary and Joseph," he said as he crossed himself. The doctor's Irish Catholic upbringing rearing its head at what he'd seen and felt from the boy.

"Reverse it," John spoke. His attention directed toward his son. He'd deal with what the doctor had seen when he knew his baby son was all right. John's voice pulled Kieran out of his state of paralysis and he switched into doctor mode, yet again.

He pulled up another drug into a syringe and injected it into the IV. "This will reverse the sedative enough that he'll sleep, but he won't be in danger from any possible effects. John nodded as he looked at the monitors trying to insure himself that Sammy was indeed okay, and had suffered no ill effects from the drug. "He most likely won't even remember he was even given the shot. Most likely he'll lose a bit of time prior to the shot," the doctor commented.

"We need to speak," John's voice soft. Kieran nodded. The men stepped outside and walked down the hall. John followed the man into an empty exam room, so they could speak privately. "What did you see?" John wasn't mincing words. John shook his head absently at the onslaught on memories.

"Flame, darkness, and there was an incredible feeling of hate and rage the likes of which I've never felt before. It wasn't human, it was…"

"Demonic," John inserted his voice serious. Kieran nodded. "What else did you see?"

"I saw Sam with a man, but his eyes they weren't the eyes of a human man. They were…" Kieran took breath still repulsed by the vision. "His eyes were black as pitch, as if they were made of oil. His eyes were absolutely soulless. The evil was old, ancient." John nodded.

"And, what do you feel in Sam? What aren't you saying?"

"I felt something inside him, as if something has begun to stir, to awaken in him. I feel the darkness closing in."

"I won't let it have him," John hissed.

"Why does it want Sam's power?"

"The demon wants to fulfill a prophecy, he wants Sam with him," John's words were rushed, but his worry hung heavy on every syllable. And, suddenly Kieran understood with a sickening clarity.

"But, with his abilities, if turned evil... he'd be..." Kieran stopped.

"It won't have my son," John's voice commanding.

"Oh God, it truly means to bring him over. Make him his own?"

"Yes," John's tone deadly. "And, he's not going to have him. I'll do what I have to…" his voice trailing off as his eyes darkened. "I'll do what I have to, to save him… one way or the other." And, for Kieran it all crystallized for him in that moment.

"But, he's your son!" John's gaze leveled on Kieran.

"I know that," John snapped, but his eyes were sad. "If the demon gets his way, what will be left won't be my son. It will be a shell that used to be my son. I won't let it have him."

"You'd…" Kieran couldn't finish his thought.

"Save my son anyway I had to?" John's voice sad. "Yes."

The men talked a bit longer, but John felt the need to return to his youngest son's bedside. He and Kieran parted ways for the evening. "I'll be back in the morning to check on him," Kieran's tone tried to be soothing. "He's a good boy, John. Don't give up on him."

"How could I? He's my son."

John entered into his youngest child'sroom, and moved his chair closer to the bedside. He slipped a hand under the sheets and pulled out one of Sam's hands and took it in his own. "Sammy, I won't let it have you. I won't lose you." His voice was soft a mere whisper. Sam remained asleep, but turned his head slightly in the direction of his father's voice, and John smiled.

Sam stirred slightly as he curled onto his side facing his father, and John watched his baby son settle deeper into sleep, and listened to his soft breathing. He watched his son and felt his heart swell with love. He looked on Sam, his son with a gentle soul and warm eyes that allowed you to see his depths when you looked. John hadn't anticipated the battle to begin so soon, but things were in play now. He knew there was a storm coming, and he had to prepare. His fractured family was in the middle of this approaching maelstrom, and he had to be ready. John Winchester hated to lose, and this approaching battle he wouldn't, he couldn't lose.

TBC

Was this a horrible installment? Like it? Hate it? Reviews are the only way I know if you like what you're reading. Should I continue with the series or put it out of its misery? Thanks for reading!

Story Seven will be titled: "Last Resort," although I haven't begun it yet, I hope to start soon depending on reviews telling me to write more.